Bill to provide adopted people access to birth certificates advances to Louisiana House

By: - March 21, 2022 4:15 pm
Final House vote delayed on Louisiana adoption birth certificate bill

A Louisiana lawmaker has proposed legislation that would allow adopted people to obtain copies of their original birth certificates once they reach age 24. (WES MULLER/LOUISIANA ILLUMINATOR)

A Louisiana Legislature committee advanced a bill Monday that would give adopted people access to their birth certificates once they turn 24, despite concerns from abortion opponents that it would discourage birth mothers who want to remain anonymous.

Rep. Charles Owen, R-Leesville, R-Rosepine, brought his bill before the House Committee on Civil Law and Procedure last week, when a vote on the proposal was deferred. Ben Clapper with Louisiana Right to Life had asked Owen to consider an amendment that would require the birth mother’s consent to be identified. Owen and supporters of his bill have said identifying information is already successful through genealogy and DNA-tracking websites such as 23andMe.com and Ancestry.com.

“I don’t think we try to justify with the good results of some reunions … going back on the presumption of confidentiality. I would say that’s bad government,” Clapper told the committee Monday.

Birth parents haven’t spoken out against Owen’s bill because they want don’t want to go public, Clapper said. He challenged lawmakers who argued that a 1977 state law the Legislature approved does not recognizes a birth mother’s right to privacy in an adoption.

Owen was adopted and didn’t meet his birth mother until he was 35 years old and she tracked him down. He said Monday he didn’t try to obtain his birth certificate until after they were reunited and only because he wanted to understand how difficult the process would be.

Several adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents reached out to Owen over the past week to express support for his bill, he said. Beyond reunions of biological families, Owen said his bill would also assist adoptees in need of critical medical information.

Anti-abortion group opposes giving adopted people access to birth certificates

Lawmakers asked Owen about the possibility of obtaining consent from birth mothers to later be identified through birth certificates, but no one on the committee took the step of requesting an amendment to his bill.

Jeanette Livingston and Karen Babin, both members of the Louisiana Adoption Advisory Board, told the committee birth mothers are not in any way promised anonymity when they give up children for adoption. Both women are also birth mothers.

“I don’t think this bill opens that door any more than it’s already open,” said Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, who moved to advance the bill to the House floor. It was approved without objection.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.

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